Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] appeared to play down the import of the Left Democratic Front’s defeat in the Thrikkakara Assembly bypoll despite a spirited campaign that had Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, among other top leaders, at the vanguard.
Speaking to reporters after a State secretariat meeting, CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan seemed to seek comfort in the report that the LDF had marginally increased its vote share, an estimated 2.6%, in the “United Democratic Front’s (UDF) citadel.” He, though, acknowledged that the LDF's vote share increase was minimal and not commensurate with the effort the party had invested in the campaign.
Mr. Balakrishnan said the Twenty20’s decision to stay away from the fight had advantaged the Opposition tactically. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) vote share had plummeted, indicating that most of it had ended in the UDF’s kitty.
He also theorised that a coming together of "anti-Left and fundamentalist forces and an antagonistic media" had gifted Thrikkakara to the UDF. The UDF candidate had also benefitted from the electorate's sympathy towards her, the late P. T. Thomas's wife. "Conventionally, Keralites offer support and commiseration to the kin of late leaders. Malayalis awarded the Congress all the 20 Lok Sabha seats after Indira Gandhi's assassination," Mr. Balakrishnan claimed.
Ernakulam is traditionally a UDF bastion. The LDF could not seize much ground in the district even when it rode to power on the crest of a wave of popular support in the 2021 Assembly elections.
Mr. Balakrishnan admitted that the Congress was far from a spent force. “The party has its strongholds in at least 30 Assembly constituencies in Kerala,” he said.
Rejects UDF stand
Mr. Balakrishnan rejected the Congress’s interpretation that the UDF win in Thrikkakara was a referendum on LDF’s K-Rail (SilverLine) project. The government would implement the project, depending on the Centre’s approval. “It has the mandate,” he said.
However, Mr. Balakrishnan somewhat cryptically urged the party to “tread with caution” without decoding what he meant. When pressed, Mr. Balakrishnan said: “The party’s evaluation of the bypoll is preliminary. It will analyse the matter in detail and suggest course corrections, if necessary,” he said.